Posts Tagged ‘primrose’

Today’s guest picture shows a fine waterfall visited by Dropscone and family on his Skye holiday.

Skye waterfall

In spite of a forecast of rain, we had yet another dry, cool day with a brisk wind until the evening.  I should have gone cycling (my neighbour Ken did 40 miles in the morning) but I was feeling lazy so I had a cup of coffee with Sandy instead

After coffee, I combined doing the crossword with some lawn mowing and compost shredding and occasionally looking at the birds.


A greenfinch dropped in

I had yet another go or two at photographing the rosemary.


The slightly different colours reflect the fact that I tried with two different cameras.

I did some deadheading too and looked at flowers as I went round.


The chilly weather means that daffodils and tulips are still our staples but I was pleased to see a butterfly although I couldn’t get a very good picture of it.  It was struggling to get enough warmth to fly.

white butterfly

Mrs Tootlepedal was in Attila the Gardener mode and started on giving our topiary chicken a very severe haircut after lunch so I had plenty of clippings to put through the shredder.

I had to stop though when Sandy reappeared for a prearranged outing.

We went up to the Moorland bird feeders at the Laverock Hide in the hope of seeing something interesting.  We did see a couple on unusual sights.  A hare ran across the clearing right in front of the hide and a goshawk made a pass up the clearing and then flew across it later on. All three of these events were good to see but unfortunately too quick for catching on camera.

One thing we couldn’t miss was the male pheasants….


…strutting around and pestering the females.  Some of the females were chased about on the ground and got rather ruffled while others took to the trees to escape unwanted attention.

female pheasants

Of course there were plenty of small birds to see too.

chaffinch, blue tit and robin

After the goshawk had thoroughly cleared the clearing for the second time, we gave up and went down to the Castleholm to see if the nuthatches were at the nest by the bridge.

Two were to be seen.  One arrived at the tree and flitted from branch to branch before perching and singing furiously.


It flew off and almost immediately, another nuthatch emerged from the nest hole, gave a backward glance….


…and flew off.

After a moment or two the first nuthatch returned with something in its beak…..


…which it dropped into the nest hole without entering and then it too flew off and all was quiet.

We waited for a bit and then the call of teatime became too insistent and we left.

We did see some promising bluebells on our way to the nest….


..and some fine primroses on our way back to the car.


…as well as any amount of attempted growth on the trees.

leaf buds

There had been a lot of waiting for some indifferent bird pictures but seeing the nuthatches and goshawk had made the outing worthwhile.

When I got home, the formerly plump chicken….

topiary chicken

…had been reduced to this….

thin chicken

…by Attila but she is hoping that the end result will be a slimmer and better looking bird.  Think of it as a work by Brancusi meanwhile.

A little sunshine had arrived rather late in the day and it lit up a tulip for me….

backlit tulip

…before I went in for my tea.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came and Alison and I played music in a style which fairly accurately reflected the lack of practice opportunities for us both during the preceding week.

It is the London Marathon on Sunday and while we talking about it after playing, Mike revealed that he had run no less than seventeen marathons in his younger days.  Mrs Tootlepedal and I were very impressed indeed.  We knew he had run several marathons but had no idea that he had done so many, quite a few in under three hours, a very respectable speed indeed.

The flying bird of the day is a goldfinch about to give a siskin a hard time.

flying goldfinch



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Today’s guest picture shows a great crested grebe, sent by my Glastonbury correspondent Venetia.  It was seen while on a visit to Shapwick Heath nature reserve with my sister Mary.

Great crested grebe

Our dry spell continued with another mostly sunny day here but the cool north easterly wind meant that it wasn’t a day for the natty shorts as yesterday had been.

Mrs Tootlepedal didn’t care because it was quite good enough for her to spend a day in the garden doing useful stuff all over the place.

She started in the greenhouse and I came and sat in the warmth while she potted out seedlings.  I could see the rosemary in flower through the glass and went out to try to get a picture of it.


I find it a very difficult plant to capture properly.

While Mrs Tootlepedal toiled, I enjoyed a leisurely morning which was enhanced by the arrival of Dropscone bearing some traditional Friday treacle scones.  After he left, I had space to do the crossword, visit the shop  and make some lentil soup until it was time to eat the soup for lunch.

There were not many birds about and the plum tree was operating a separate gender policy for chaffinches at first….

plum tree

…although shy glances were exchanged later.


A redpoll was in full breeding colour.


I had a look at the pond and was impressed by the ripples of agitation which a light footed pond skater created.

pond skater

And Mrs Tootlepedal pointed out a rather fancy daffodil which she couldn’t remember buying, let alone planting.

fancy daffodil

During the morning, we got a call from the bike shop in Longtown to say that my slow bike was ready for collection so after lunch we drove down to pick it up.

The slow bike has a belt drive rather than a chain so that it has no chance of getting oil on my trousers when I ride it around the town.  On this occasion I had got the bike shop to make it even more convenient by fitting a solid tyre to the back wheel thus making sure that I could never get a puncture.

solid tyre

Robert William Thomson of Stonehaven patented the pneumatic tyre in 1846 but he was frustrated by the lack of thin rubber and he turned to the development of his solid rubber tyres. It was not until 43 years later that the pneumatic tyre returned, when it was developed as a bicycle tyre by John Boyd Dunlop.  It will be interesting to see if the return of the solid rubber tyre catches on 130 years later.

With its enclosed gears, stand, belt drive, rear view mirror, mudguards and solid tyre, my slow bike should be the perfect vehicle for a leisurely tour through town or country.

I was interested to see how it would ride with the solid tyre fitted so I took it for a spin up the Lodge Walks to check for possible nuthatches while testing it out.

There were no nuthatches to be seen but the trees are beginning to show their springtime green…

Catleholm trees

…the primroses are very fine…


…and it is always a treat to have an ice cream from the van on the Kilngreen and have a chat with Mr Grumpy at the same time.


The new tyre coped with all the bumps very comfortably and handled well so first impressions were good.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal agreed to an extension of the trial by cycling with me up to Wauchope Schoolhouse and back.  In spite of the sun, it was chilly enough in the wind to need a coat but it was a beautiful day to be out.

Mrs Tootlepedal cycling

I stopped to record the continuing dilapidation of the cottage across the field from the road…

blochburnfoot cottage

It is picturesque but a sad sight.

…and Mrs Tootlepedal spotted the first bluebells of the spring.

first bluebell

Once again, the bike handled well and dealt with any bumps most comfortably.  The rolling resistance seemed very reasonable too so I am quite happy with my new tyre after the initial ten miles.  The bike shop man told me that this was the first solid tyre that he had fitted so he too is interested in how it rides.  The only unanswered question is how durable it will prove to be.  That question will take some time to answer.

I had another walk round the garden in the afternoon.

The euphorbias are enjoying the sunshine a lot…


…and I liked the contrast between a tiny lithodora and an extravagant tulip.

lithospermum and tulip

Later on, Mrs Tootlepedal made the first rhubarb crumble of the year and I enjoyed a generous helping for my tea along with some cauliflower cheese.

In the evening, Mike and Alison came round and Alison and I had a go at a new sonata (for us) by Benedetto Marcello (1686-1739).  I had found it in the bottom of a drawer under a pile of other music and it turned out to be very attractive and not too difficult so it will certainly appear on our menu again.

I haven’t made the best use of the recent sunny weather for taking the flying birds of the day but there haven’t been many birds about and I have had plenty of other things to do so once again, the flying bird of the day is not of top quality and I apologise.


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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce who seems to have popped up in Spain.   He had an excursion today to the monastery at Montserrat and found a statue there of interest.  He claims that its eyes followed him about wherever he went.  Look closely at the triptych which he took and you can see what he means.

MontserratI didn’t need to be followed anywhere this morning as I stayed firmly at home doing nothing more exciting than making some slow cooked lamb stew and a pot of coffee.  Sandy joined us for coffee on his way home from a fifteen mile cycle ride which put me to shame.

Mrs Tootlepedal was hard at work doing preparatory work for the final decoration of the downstairs room and I lent a small hand from time to time.

I did take a walk round the garden.   I found two small tortoiseshell butterflies trapped in a spider’s web in the garage and Mrs Tootlepedal came with her delicate fingers and freed them.  We were worried that they might be fatally injured but after a little basking in the sun…

butterfly…they both flew off looking quite chipper.

New flowers are to be seen.


The first of many tulips


A few forsythia flowers

The tadpoles are beginning to roam free in the pond.

tadpolesSpurred into action by a sardine sandwich for lunch, I put on my walking shoes and walked up to the top of Timpen, a 1000 ft summit behind our house.  I had my cameras with me but I was more interested in walking than shooting so I took my walking poles along and hardly stopped until I had made it to the top of the hill.

Two brief photo ops detained me on my way up.

Hill cattle

With the hill cattle around, I had to be careful not to get between mother and calf.  They can be fiercely protective.

meadow pipits

I saw quite a few of these little birds on the hillside.

meadow pipits

They turned out to be meadow pipits.

There is a trig point with a bench mark on the summit….

benchmarkThe numbers do not refer to the height above sea level which is 1069 ft.  Another benchmark near our house in the town is at a height of 269 ft and this shows that I had climbed exactly 800 ft, as my route had not involved any loss of height.

It was another hazy day but I took a couple of shots from the top of the hill.


The town just visible 800 ft below.


In the other direction I could see Craigcleuch, one of the houses built by mill owners in Victorian times.

The light was very variable but every now and again, a bit of sunlight penetrated the haze and lit up a view.

Castle HillI went (very carefully) down the steeper side of the hill towards the Bentpath road and could see the pheasant hatchery on the Castleholm laid out like a map plan below me.

CastleholmOnce back on the road, I crossed it and walked back to Langholm through the woods to the Duchess Bridge.  I was greeted by a very charming bunch of primroses.

primrosesThe recent dry weather has made the path much less muddy than usual and it was a pleasure to walk along it.

Duchess bridge walkThe bridge itself is very difficult to see because of the trees lining the riverside…

Duchess Bridge…and if I was the landowner, I would make sure that there was at least one gap in the trees so that walkers could admire this historic bridge.

When I got home, Mrs Tootlepedal had reached a natural hiatus in her decorating tasks so we went for a nine and a half mile cycle ride up and down the Wauchope road in the the warm early evening sunshine.  The trees at the school are retreating ever further along the banks of the river.

Wauchope school treesWe turned for home at Westwater and had a quick look at the massive wooden circular construction there which will be used for a falconry centre there.   You can see a picture of it at the end of Gavin’s latest blog.

When we got home, Mrs Tootlepedal washed one of a pair of big velvet curtains from the front room in a large tub and I helped her to hang it out.  I question whether it will ever dry out but we can but hope.

I took a picture of a euphorbia before I went back in.

euphorbiaThe lamb stew turned out very well after my gravy chef had worked her magic and provided us with a good meal.  As I was feeling inexplicably snoozy, the rest of the evening saw no action of note at all.

Bird  action was very limited in the garden during the day but as I was waiting for the stew, I did see a late flying chaffinch.


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Today’s guest picture was sent to me by my friend Bruce.  On one of his walks with his dog, he noticed that the receptacle provided for the convenience of dog walkers has acquired a ‘genius loci’.

dog dragonI woke up to a sunny morning and toyed with the idea of getting up into cycling clothes and rocketing off into the wide blue yonder.  A number of factors were weighed in the balance, the brisk wind, the chilly temperature, business to be done and the state of my knee but in the end they were all trumped by utter idleness and I started the day at a quiet tempo which I maintained with grace throughout the day.

After breakfast I checked on the tadpole development situation.

tadpolesIt is, as they say, ongoing.  It looks as though have survived some very chilly mornings.

To help Mrs Tootlepedal with her decorating, I put an undercoat on the skirting boards for the upstairs room.  This is low grade work suitable for an amateur like me.

When Mrs Tootlepedal went off for a church choir practice, I combined doing my business in the town with a slow bicycle tour to Wauchope School and back for the grand total of seven miles.  The business was nicely varied and included placing a small ad in the local paper for the next camera club meeting, buying and delivering a fan heater for the Archive Centre and paying my garage bill.  As this was all within a hundred yards, it didn’t extend my cycle distance significantly.

The rest of the tour to Wauchope School was hard work in the wind and I was glad that I had not attempted anything more ambitious.  I stopped to record the first wild roadside primrose of the year…

roadside primrose…and then idled back home with the wind behind me twice as fast as I had gone out but still didn’t get my average speed above 10mph.

When I got home, I had a walk round the garden to look for new shoots…

signs of spring…and found some but had to put in one established flower to make up the numbers..

new shootsThere were plenty of birds about today, brought in no doubt by the change from dry to wet weather.


Male and female siskins

chaffinch landing

A chaffinch getting a toehold on the feeder


And a blackbird attracted by another fat ball

The fat ball had other admirers.  A jackdaw perched near by, checking out the options….

jackdaw…before descending to the chimney…..

jackdaw…and finally arriving at the ball and adopting a position very reminiscent of the late, great Jim Baxter tormenting the World Cup winners in 1967..

jackdawAfter lunch, a quick check on the forecast showed the possibility of heavy rain soon, so I nipped out for a walk round Gaskells.  As usual, I was waylaid by lichen.

lichen…and moss too…

moss…but I got back before the rain started.

The fat ball was still drawing in customers.

robinIt was lashing down when Owen arrived to plaster the downstairs room…

plaster…a task which he completed in short order.  The sharp eyed may notice a patch of yellow on the lintel above the stove.  The lintel is from the old fireplace and is full of soot.  Mrs Tootlepedal is using a home made poultice based on bicarbonate of soda to draw the soot out with some success.

In the evening, my flute pupil Luke came.  He will not get the results of his grade examination for some weeks yet but both he and his accompanist felt that he had played well enough to pass so I am keeping my fingers crossed for him.  We have put the exam music to the side and have started on a Telemann trio sonata and some snappy fiddle dance tunes.

After tea, I went off to play trios with Isabel and Mike.  We enjoyed ourselves so much that we played all the repeats that we came across except one.  Often we are quite pleased just to have got to the end of a piece once.

There are weather warnings out for heavy rain and gales overnight and tomorrow.  I hope we don’t find our nice new chimney blown into the gutter when we wake up.

The flying bird of the day is a traditional chaffinch.

flying chaffinch

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Today’s guest picture shows a gold mine in New Zealand found by my neighbour Liz on her tour.  She didn’t find any gold though.



I had made a plan to get up early today and go for my morning cycle ride before breakfast.  The point of the early start was to avoid the ‘rain later’ of the forecast.  The plan had two imponderables: a) would I actually be able to get up at 7am? and b) would I beat the ‘rain later’?

I achieved the first objective but failed in the second.  In fact, I was just at the furthest point of my trip to Gair and back when the rain started.  It was light at first but got steadily heavier as I pedalled into a increasing breeze and I was thoroughly soaked by the time that I got home.  Still a plate of porridge and a cup of tea restored my equanimity.

After breakfast, Mrs Tootlepedal went off to a church choir practice and I went up to the town to do some business in the rain.  I called in at the Archive Centre, where one of the regular data miners was hard at work, to pick up some finished data sheets (which I started to enter into the database later in the day) and produce some more blank sheets.

Once home, there was coffee and a crossword to keep me busy and as always, plenty of action outside the kitchen window.

Goldfinches are visiting in numbers at the moment.

Goldfinch full house

A full house

As soon as one left…

goldfinch leaving

…another arrived.

goldfinch arriving

There wasn’t much fun to be had in the rain trying to photograph flowers but I have put together a patriotic red, white and blue composite just for the sake of it.

patriotic composite

I am still waiting for a decent spell of sunshine to encourage the many waiting tulips to come out.


The rain is keeping the pond filled which must be good for the tadpoles.


After lunch, there was a promise of some dry weather and Mrs Tootlepedal and I decided that a pedal would be in order.  The rain took quite a while to clear and I was lucky to be standing at the window with the camera in hand when the small birds disappeared at speed.  The reason?


The sparrowhawk


It looked around but when it didn’t see any available lunch, it flew off again.

The small birds waited for a few minutes and then were soon back at the feeder….some just as badly behaved as usual….


…but some more restful.


The rain slackened to a light drizzle and Mrs Tootlepedal and I set off up the Wauchope road.  The rain soon became negligible and we enjoyed a gentle pedal in light winds up to Westwater and back.

At Westwater, the bank of the felled woodland was sprinkled with primroses…


…and there were many elsewhere beside the road on the way up.

Mrs Tootlepedal enjoys being able to freewheel at low speeds down slight gradients on the way back but I find this a bit boring so while she eased her way along, I stopped to say hello to a couple of fence posts, one concrete and one wooden.

fence posts

They repaid closer examination.

fence posts

We stopped at Bessie Bell’s on the way home.  The water was pouring through the gap where the old bridge used to be.


There were wild flowers there too.

colts foot


By the time that we got home, the sun was actually out and for an hour or so, and it was a lovely day but very soggy underfoot still.

Some birds were still being rude to each other…

siskins sparring

Siskins sparring

…but once again there were more restful characters about too.


There were quite a few redpolls about today which was a pleasure as they are attractive little birds.

The evening was given over to music. First my flute pupil Luke came and then I went to play trios with Mike and Isabel.  Both were good experiences.

The flying bird of the day is a chaffinch showing just how hard they are finding it now to get a seat at the table.  There is always a goldfinch or a siskin or a redpoll there first.









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Today’s guest picture, sent to me by my daughter Annie, shows a tree surgeon cutting up the eucalyptus tree that was blown over in their garden by the recent gales.  Sadly, it makes for poor burning so all of it will go to shredding.

tree surgeon

After two days of sunshine in Langholm, the meteorological authorities, fearing an outbreak of unconstrained merriment of even riotous jollification, put the sun away this morning and covered us up with a safe grey sky to keep us in our place.

Luckily, they had put away the strong wind too and Dropscone and I went round the morning run in our fastest time since December last year.  As we set off, Dropscone noticed this new outbreak of primroses in our drive.


They have come to join the fine display in the bed beside the greenhouse.


There were other new flowers about today.  Here are two colours of aubretia on the other side of the greenhouse.


Apart from the morning cycle, I didn’t do very much today as it was rather grey and uninviting for a walk but I did find time to make a sourdough loaf and have a first go at some sourdough crumpets following a suggestion from Jennie, Maisie’s mother, from New Zealand who is a sourdough enthusiast.

Sourdough crumpets are a good way to use up any spare sourdough starter and are remarkably easy to make, even for me.  I made  a small batch to see how they went and they tasted very good. More will follow.

I also walked round the garden looking at daffodils.  The lighter wind helped them to stand a bit taller and the lack of sunshine actually made it easier to photograph them.  Mrs Tootlepedal likes daffodils and has quite a few varieties.  Here are most of the ones that are out at the moment.

I don’t know the names of the daffs but the first two pictures show miniature earlies.



The next three are taller.




She has the standard version as well.


Needless to say, I did a little bird watching and welcomed a lone brambling back late in the day.


The down side of the siskins, as I may have mentioned before, is that they are very wasteful nibblers.  The sunflower seeds are just a fraction too big for their dainty beaks…

siskin nibbling

…but luckily the chaffinches work hard to keep things clean under the feeder.


They were busy in the air too.


This female isn’t going to stand on ceremony, she is going to stand on another chaffinch.

Some were more restful.


The birds have had to be on their toes lately as a sparrow hawk is making frequent visits to the garden.  It tends to flash by before I can pick up my camera but I got a glimpse of it today, lurking behind the branches in the walnut tree.


The temperatures through the day are rising and I thought it was time to turn my thoughts to the lawns.  I got the mower out and gave it enough care and attention to get it moving after its winter snooze and then perpetrated some random acts of violence on the moss which has taken over from most of the grass.


Distance lends enchantment to this view of the moss pasture.

Add in some crossword time,  a few moments to clean the transmission on my speedy bike and pump the tyres on that and the slow bike,  a visit to the corner shop to replenish my cheese supplies, an interval to exchange a few words with Mrs Tootlepedal and have a cup of tea with Mike Tinker, who paid us a visit, and the day was well filled with undemanding activity suitable for an elderly person.

It was rounded off with a chauffeur (Susan at the wheel) driven trip to Carlisle to play with the recorder group.  The playing was very enjoyable and we even found a piece or two which we have never played before to entertain ourselves with.

A chaffinch is flying bird of the day.

flying chaffinch



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Today’s guest picture is another from my sister Mary’s trip to Brighton.  It shows that a trip to the end of Brighton pier would end with very wet feet.

Hyde Park and various 04.03.14 003

We had a miserable day of weather here, raining when we got up and still raining even harder when I write this in the evening.  I had to go up to fill the feeders at the Moorland feeding station and it was a very soggy business.  There were plenty of birds about but it was too wet to sit outside so I was trapped in the car too far away to see clearly….

feeding station

..and the light was rotten and even a tree sparrow couldn’t tempt me to stay for long….

tree sparrow

Tree sparrow on the right.

…though a couple of pheasants obligingly came close to the car to pose.


The male plumage looks as though it might have been painted on porcelain.


The female on the other hand looks as though it might have been embroidered in thick thread.

I stopped to snap a gorse bush which was adding a little colour to a grey day….


…and headed home.

The incessant rain and the strong wind made photographing flowers uninviting so my only garden flower shot of the day was taken from the shelter of the back door.


The primroses are not discouraged by anything.

I retired inside and got several necessary tasks out of the way.  In a slightly brighter but still rainy moment, I took a break to stare out of the window.

siskins and chaffinches

The siskins and chaffinches were still bickering but the goldfinches tried a little shouting of their own today.

goldfinch shouting

Successful in this case…

goldfinch shouting

…but missing the target here.

The gloom of the day was deepened when the program that I use to put music onto the computer crashed just as I was going to save an hour’s work.  What is the golden rule? Save every ten minutes.  Did I do it? No.

I did make a small frog hunting expedition in the afternoon.


Some lay on top of the water.


Others were more discreet.

In hopes of some better weather to come, I took the speedy bike down to the excellent bike shop in Longtown for it’s annual service but in expectation of more rain, bought a pair of new overshoes while I was in there.

The best thing about the day was that the tiredness which had enveloped me like a heavy overcoat when I got up, magically disappeared during the afternoon and by the time that I went to the Archive Centre with Jean and Sandy in the evening, I was annoyingly perky.  Jean is suffering from  a sore leg but overcame her discomfort without complaint and we put in a power  of work entering the newspaper index into the database while Sandy scanned pictures for our photo archive.  Our next database entries will be for January 1887 and the start of a new year always rekindles our enthusiasm for the task.

A flying chaffinch in the gloom ends this post.

flying chaffinch

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